Power and Authority

Today was good. I accomplished things: 4 chapters of anatomy, 2.5 hours studying chemistry, and 1 chapter of philosophy. I made Pad Thai for dinner and proceeded to eat far too much of it at dinner and just ate most of the leftovers when I got home half an hour ago. I have no self-control. I also listened to a cd I just got over and over and over again. It is by a former offshore trainee who sailed with us on leg 1. She would sing both the hold and foc’s’le to sleep every night with her songs and listening to it brought back great memories of her singing.

I also got to meet up with some friends I haven’t seen in ages tonight. The IVCF group on campus shifted their weekly meeting from Friday night to Thursday night (which meant I couldn’t go, not that I’ve been going to the Friday meetings either) and a good friend was speaking about her experiences in China. We first went to China together three years ago on the Global Partnership and she has been back twice, most recently for nearly a year. I couldn’t go to the meeting for reasons I’ll explain in a minute, but I met up with some of them at Tim Horton’s afterwards. Now that I’ve reconnected, hopefully I’ll be able to see some more of these girls again. We did Bible Study together during my two years at UVic and were on the IVCF leadership team together, and…

The reason I couldn’t go to the IVCF meeting tonight was that Tony Campolo was in town tonight and speaking at a church downtown. I believe he will be at Missionsfest in Vancouver this weekend. He was here on behalf of World Vision Canada so there was the usual push to sponsor a child, however what he had to say went much deeper than that. He started off talking about our inner spirituality (for lack of a better term or Campolo’s eloquence) and the importance of taking time to just be in God. That resonated because that is what I’ve been trying to accomplish over the last couple weeks. He talked about prayer and sitting in prayer, free of distractions and, again being.

He went on to bring things to a larger scale and challenged us that real change does not happen by us electing a “Christian” political party or having the right lobby groups or anything that we may be able to accomplish politically. Jesus didn’t chose to work that way, he was offered political power and rejected it. He was offered economic power and he rejected that too. (See Matthew 4.) What he did do was bring about a radical change through living sacrificially. And he had authority as a result. Power and authority: two very different things. One is commanded, the other is out of respect.

Where are we as the church? Do we try and command power by having people high up in the political proceedings or is our authority respected because of our track record for feeding the hungry, clothing the poor, giving shelter to those who need it, and visiting the sick. I don’t think that many churches could claim to have the kind of authority and respect that we should. We should be at the forefront of social justice but often we are too concerned with maintaining our building and declining memberships. What would it take for us to get back to a place of living sacrificially? I suppose, it is done as Mother Teresa said when asked how she was going to save the tens of thousands of kids on the streets of Calcutta: one person at a time.

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